Posts Tagged ‘process’
Strategy and planning is our core business. But it is rarely an easy ride. Something I have pondered about in the past is Why is developing digital strategy is so damn difficult? Having just finished a significant piece of strategy development work I thought it might be worthwhile sharing some of the things I have learnt along the way about strategy and planning.
You might recognise some of these? You probably have something to add. You might disagree with everything I am saying! Whichever applies I would love to hear from you.
One – take a big breath
There is no easy way to get to grips with an entirely new problem, business or sector. It requires full and complete immersion. In fact some planners call it that. So, when the client says ‘yes’, take a big breath. You are going in. Deep.
Two – apply a planning model
Planning models and frameworks are an essential part of your toolkit. There are many. Not the sort of thing you find in the management consultancy section in airport bookshops … a proper marketing planning framework. But remember, each client and each problem is different. The real skill is applying the right model in the right way.
Three – find a way to make it doable
With all those ifs, buts and maybes flying around your head sometimes it’s difficult to find a way forward. What you need, during those occasionally dark times, is a solution that feels ‘doable’. It might not be the right one but it will give you enough direction and something to critique that it will help you on your way to finding the right solution.
Four – involve others
Two, three, four … more heads are better than one. Those people that work in and to the business will understand the business better than you. Don’t forget it. Involve them in the process. Not only will the final outcome be a better one but it will be one that people are bought into. That’s really important.
Five – direction is more important than perfection
Moving forward with something that is 75% right is better than deliberating for too long and coming up with something that is 90% right. Create a strategy and delivery approach that supports ongoing optimsation and improvement. Test and Learn. Fail better fail faster. Doesn’t matter what call it.
Six – deal with the unknown
We expect to have all the knowledge and insight we need at our fingertips to help us make the right strategic decisions. Wake up! In the real world (yes, even the data driven one we all talk about) it is likely you will have to deal with some significant gaps. Fill those gaps where you can and address the ones you can’t ‘moving forward’.
Seven – it’s never finished
So, don’t even try. Create clear expectations and a defined set of deliverables but be honest with yourself and your client. Any strategy will develop over time. There’s nothing wrong with having a list of issues that represent a work in progress. Don’t write big documents that sit on the shelf and nobody reads.
Eight – think delivery
Make it simple enough to deliver. Then make it simpler again. Work with the resources you have and create an appropriate set of priorities. Phases and staged delivery is good. A successful strategy should help the business put the right things at the top of the to-do list.
Nine – change is everything
Strategy provides the basis for change. Change can be uncomfortable. Developing strategy very quickly becomes change management. Take account of that. The successfully implementation of your strategy depends on it.
Ten – it’s all encompassing
One blog each month. That’s all. So, what happened to April?
You see what I mean …
Tags: planning, process, strategy
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Following my recent blog posts about stuff like Agile marketing and ‘give it a go and see what happens’ and Developing a digital marketing strategy in the real world here’s something a bit more random and based on the stuff which rattles around in your head. My head anyway!
On my way into the office I cross a busy road junction and four pedestrian crossings. Sometimes the man is green … but sometimes the man is red. When the man is green I walk and so does everyone else. When the man is red I sometimes walk but more often than not everyone else waits for the man to turn green. That’s the rule. That’s the procedure for crossing the road safely. Sometimes the road is reasonably clear and with good timing and appropriate care you can still cross safely. Sometimes the road is entirely clear of traffic. But people still wait. Because that’s the rule.
Rules and procedures are there for a reason. They provide us with a prescribed direction and a basis for progressing a particular course of action. But we must think and make sure we apply the rules appropriately – in a way that does not prevent us from reaching our end goal, take us an unnecessarily long time to get there or even undermine the very thing we are trying to achieve.
But often people don’t think. In fact some rules are there so people don’t have to think. A pilot’s pre-flight checklist for example. But not all rules are like that. Not all rules are to be applied blindly and indisciminately. Sometimes it is safe to cross the road when the man is red.
Tags: organisations, process, random thoughts
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This is the first in my series of ‘why digital can take so much bloody time’ blogs. Let’s start with email. How hard can it be? Most of us send and receive e-mail every day. But with our very precious customer base at the end of that send button the devil is most certainly in the detail and like any other digital marketing project (and that’s what it is – a project) it can be complex, resource intensive and time hungry.
To illustrate this point here are some things to consider and key questions to ask yourself. I’ve left out the initial heavy weight task of deciding on which e-mail platform to use and developing an appropriate communications programme … jumping straight into the design and build.
What’s it going to look like & how are you going to build it?
Early on, factor in time to agree and specify the e-mail design, content requirement and the functionality … not vaguely but in detail. Draw a sketch, think about word counts and image orientation.
Yes content is king, but not only that, it’s an unpopular, time consuming, resource draining white elephant. Content research, asset collation and copywriting all take a disproportional amount of time and effort. Anyone who’s ever built a website, written a blog or sent an e-mail can vouch for that.
Allow time to ensure the entire subscription process is in place. Will the user get a ‘Thank You’ page, a confirmation e-mail, a welcome e-mail, the ability to unsubscribe easily, a unsubscribe confirmation page or even a final goodbye e-mail. Is the ‘sign up’ form capturing the right data? Does the opt-in mechanism comply with data protection best practice?
There are many more questions. Is the email a newsletter, a specific communication or an incentive based e-voucher? Should it include additional functionality such as ‘Send to friend’? Can you cope with an ‘off the shelf’ template or do you need a custom template designed? Where will those receiving the email see the email as being sent from?
Testing and sending the final version
Check, check and double check the content of the email, the links and think hard about the subject line. Is the subject line relevant & intriguing – will it support open rates? Will it get blocked by spam filters? Avoid long subject lines and spammy words like free, cheap and offer.
Send a test e-mail, then send another test e-mail and another and another. Send the e-mail to yourself, your colleagues and your test accounts. Do this more than you think necessary.
There’s lots than can go wrong and having a checklist to go through each time will help minimise the chances of things going astray. Some of the problems you encounter can take a significant amount of time to unravel and fix. Make sure you build in enough time to allow for troubleshooting.
There are many things to go on the checklist. Has the copy been spell checked? Are all heading and sub-headings a consistent colour and size? Are all the links working and behaving consistently throughout the email? Are all your images and logos working links? Is the unsubscribe function working? Is it working across the full range of email platforms that your customers are using? If you are personalising the email is that working properly?
How did it perform and what can you learn to make the next one better?
You have hit the send button and almost immediately it is time to start looking at the results. First thing you are likely to be interested in is deliverability – how many emails actually reached their desired destination and if not why not. Beyond that you are going to be interested in things like how many emails were opened, how many unsubscribes you had, what links were clicked on and what they did when they actually arrived at your site. The results will develop over the few days following you sending the email and should ultimately help improve what you do next time.
So, back to the beginning … there is a lot to do and a lot of things that can go wrong if things are not planned and executed properly. In my experience, like most things digital, it is good planning, project management and, especially for email, appropriate use of checklists that are going to help deliver good quality email marketing and the right results.
Tags: email, process, project management
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